Martin Joseph, Henry Loftis, and Bud Stephens ran a horse stealing ring in the Chickasaw Nation. In April 1882, the former two men, who were Black, developed and carried out a plan to kill Stephens, who was was white. They then took Stephens’ wife to a remote area and raped and killed her.
Joseph later confided in Loftis’s brother, William, what they had done. When William told others, Joseph killed him. When Henry Loftis confronted Joseph, he was also killed.
With witnesses to Henry’s murder and stories circulating, the search for Joseph commenced. He was arrested and taken to Fort Smith.
With considerable physical evidence and witnesses against him, Joseph was convicted in April 1883 and sentenced to death on May 5. Martin Joseph was hanged on June 29, 1883.